Log In

Reset Password
Opinion Editorial Cartoons Op-Ed Editorials Letters to the Editor

Our View: 1984’s Mountain Gravel v. City of Cortez reinforces ‘no’ to industrial rezone

Residents in north Cortez’s Montview neighborhood remembered hearing about a lawsuit won in the early 1980s in a fight against nearby industrial activity, similar to their quest to stop Independent Log Co.’s rezoning application to industrial from commercial.

A longtime resident offered enough information for them to start digging. Finally, like Christmas in August, a gift was delivered at the 11th hour. The Colorado State Division of Archives and Public Records in Denver located legal case No. 84CV30, Mountain Gravel and Construction Company v. City of Cortez, from 1984.

At the time, Mountain Gravel lost in its bid to build a concrete hot batch plant on the property where the fitness club Body by Design is, just north of the ILC property and the entrance to what is now the Carpenter Natural Area.

This summary judgment – a solid precedent – came 10 years before Carpenter even existed. On proximity to residential properties alone, residents brought this fight to the city, asking it to revoke the construction company’s permit.

ILC is even closer to homes than Mountain Gravel was.

The 1984 legal case upheld that industrial activity has no place close to a residential area. Add to that, now Carpenter is adjacent to ILC, and ILC and Carpenter are adjacent to an established neighborhood.

It’s a slam dunk. The case reinforces every reason why Cortez City Council must outright deny ILC’s request to rezone from commercial to industrial and be done with it.

Consider what this part of north Cortez was like in the early ’80s, and how far it’s come, especially with what is now Carpenter. Back then, this area was a hotbed for shenanigans and destruction. Drunken teenagers drove up and down hillsides, burned tires, started fires and fights. Large appliances were routinely dumped in the dark of night. One night got especially out of hand when someone shot out the insulators to the power line and shut down the electrical needs of Southwest Memorial Hospital.

This got people’s attention.

Yet, even with this trashed-at-the-time landscape next door, Mountain Gravel’s permit was ultimately denied. That former land of wilding teenagers is a pristine, 72-acre desert wonderland, enjoyed by hundreds of locals every week. It’s more reason to protect what’s already in place.

We have to ask – how could ILC’s rezoning request get as far as it did? It makes no sense that the Cortez city planner would even consider supporting rezoning. Why is this?

For readers new to this story, in 2021, Anthony D. Moore and Mary K. Lan­caster purchased this previously vacant commercial land on Lebanon Road, once the old drive-in theater, to store heavy equipment and build log homes. Their rezoning application includes a proposed firefighting training facility that would store firefighting equipment, too.

Based on recent activity witnessed by residents, ILC isn’t winning over its neighbors. They say the company gouged into the hillside below homes; graded and moved fill material toward Carpenter’s marshy water and floodplain; cut vegetation and burned slash piles; and stored more heavy equipment. All without permits.

In the case of Mountain Gravel, neighbors laid out why industrial zoning and activity were not appropriate next to a residential area. Cortez’s Board of Adjustments agreed, and the city revoked the building permit. Mountain Gravel then suited. A judge affirmed the decision to revoke the building permit.

Once again, on Tuesday, we’re asking Cortez Council to honor the purpose, intent and goals of the Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code. Vote “no” to rezoning the ILC property to industrial. We have too much to lose.